Rust scores OT winner, leads Penguins past Blue Jackets 1-0
By DAN SCIFO Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins, already without captain Sidney Crosby, learned early Thursday they would be without star forward Evgeni Malkin against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
No problem. The injury-riddled Penguins pressed on for another win.
Bryan Rust scored a power-play goal at 3:02 of overtime and the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets 1-0 on Thursday night.
“We came to the rink and found out that (Malkin) was sick,” Rust said. “We were just like, “well, there’s another one, let’s go out and try to win this hockey game.”
Rust took matters into his own hands. He controlled a bouncing puck at the top of the crease and fired it past Joonas Korpisalo for the winner and his 10th goal of the year.
“He’s a real solid two-way player, but offensively, he has more confidence than he’s ever had,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Rust.
Tristan Jarry stopped 17 shots for his third shutout in his last four appearances. Jarry, who has five career shutouts, and three this season, established a franchise-record 177-minute, 15-second shutout streak before the run ended during Tuesday’s home loss to Montreal.
Jarry, the league leader in goals-against average and save percentage, is the second goaltender in team history to register three shutouts in four appearances, joining Marc-Andre Fleury.
Korpisalo, who beat Pittsburgh on Nov. 29, made 31 saves for the Blue Jackets. Columbus has lost four of five and six of nine.
“We played, I think, pretty good in the last two periods,” Korpisalo said. “At least we got the point, which is good.”
Pittsburgh played Thursday without three of its top four centers.
Malkin is one goal from becoming the fourth in franchise history and eighth active in the NHL to score 400 goals. He has six goals and 21 points in his last 14 games. Crosby missed his 15th game and center Nick Bjugstad his 13th, both because of core muscle surgery in November. The Penguins have also been without top defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Patric Hornqvist, who missed their fifth straight games with lower-body injuries.
Pittsburgh last played without Crosby and Malkin on April 9, 2017, a 3-2 loss at the New York Rangers in the Penguins’ regular-season finale. The Penguins have won 15 of their last 21 in the regular season without Crosby and Malkin, including seven of the last nine at home.
“When you lose a guy like (Malkin), I think the players did a terrific job of rallying around it,” Sullivan said. “I think it speaks volumes of the character of the guys. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we defended hard and competed.”
Six of the last 14 games between Pittsburgh and Columbus have been decided after regulation.
Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois was whistled for slashing 1:25 into overtime, which led to the winning goal. Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang became the second defenseman in team history to record 200 career power-play points with an assist on the winner.
The Penguins won for the fourth time in five games and the seventh time in 10 contests. Pittsburgh has points in 16 of its last 21 games, which includes 12 wins. The Penguins won their ninth straight home game against Columbus, dating to Dec. 21, 2015. Pittsburgh has 13 wins in its last 15 home games overall.
Entering the third period in a scoreless tie, Pittsburgh led Columbus 18-11 in shots.
Jarry made a first-period pad save on Oliver Bjorkstrand on a breakaway. In the second, Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson tripped Sonny Milano on another breakaway, resulting in a failed power play. Jarry stopped Dubois on a third-period breakaway.
“He didn’t get a lot of shots, but he had to make big saves on some high-quality chances,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard to win in this league if you don’t get that timely save and Tristan has done that for us.”
NOTES: Pittsburgh has points in 11 of its last 12 home games, which includes 10 wins. … The Penguins have 11 wins in their last 15 games against Columbus, dating to Feb. 3, 2017. … Penguins D Jack Johnson played in his 900th NHL game. … D Seth Jones played his 300th game with the Blue Jackets. He is one game from 500 in his NHL career. … Milano is one game from 100 in his NHL career. … Jake Guentzel continued a four-game point streak with an assist. He has points in 11 of his last 13 games overall.
Blue Jackets: Close a four-game trip Saturday at Ottawa
Penguins: Finish a three-game homestand Saturday against Los Angeles.
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